Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve is highly overrated

I'm trying to remember if I ever had a truly memorable New Year's Eve.

Now some of you who knew me back in the day, which I believe was actually a Thursday, probably could ask yourself if I ever had a memorable night at any time of the year. Until my early 20s, when it came to social skills, I was riding the short bus.

I had my moments, though. I had a really spectacular Valentine's Day 1970, and a couple of Independence Days that weren't too bad. But I never remember anything all that great happening on New Year's Eve.

I suppose I probably enjoyed the Pleasures of the Harbor a few times -- I have been married, between two wives, for something like 20 different December 31sts. But I don't remember more than one or two when I was single, and those that stick in my memory are usually there because of social fiascos.

I've talked with friends and colleagues about the question, and a lot of them agree with me that New Year's Eve is highly overrated. People think they're supposed to have such a great time that they try too hard, and trying too hard rarely works out well in social situations.

Am I wrong?

Did everyone else have wild, wonderful times?

I'm curious.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A look at our blessings as 2007 ends

We are so blessed, blessed almost beyond imagination in the class of 1967.

We were born in an era of peace and tranquility and came of age in exciting, interesting times. We live in a country that often falls short of its ideals, but remains one of the safest, most prosperous societies in human history.

In the 40 years since we graduated, many of us have loved and lost, but others have stayed with each other and raised families. When I look at Dale Abrahamson and Susan Spell, or think about Steve Rust and Janet Thornton, I am filled with admiration for folks who knew their minds at a very young age and stayed with their choices through the good times and the rough ones.

Some of us have grandchildren already. My daughter and her husband are planning to have their first child in 2008, so God willing, I'll be joining the club sometime next fall.

I thought Nicole and I were doing really well to plan our retirement at 60, but boy, was I jealous to see how many of you have already called it quits.

Was it Browning who said, "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be," or was it some other poet?

My senior English teacher, Rachel Maguire, would be disappointed that I can't remember.

That's OK, I think all of us remember what really matters.

Love and friendship.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

This is still the best time of the year

I haven't been posting as much lately, and our three other posters seem to have vanished completely, but it's understandable.

Unless you're living at the YMCA, heating Top Ramen in a cup and re-reading "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," this is a pretty busy time for most of us.

Editor's note: Where did that image come from?

We'll be leaving a little later this morning to go to the mountains, where we'll spend Christmas Eve and the better part of Christmas Day with our son, his girlfriend and her family. With both our kids grown, we're fortunate to still have one of them around for one more family Christmas.

Because really, family is what Christmas is all about. I could probably count on one hand the specific Christmas gifts I remember receiving over the years, even though I'm sure I wanted some of them desperately at the time.

But I'll never forget the look on my kids' faces when they got gifts from us they had been wanting but weren't expecting to receive.

I don't really have a favorite Christmas. This will be my 16th with Nicole and all of them have been special, even if a few of the early ones involved a little more drama than I would have preferred.

One that stands out for a different reason was 1989. I was working in Reno that year and had college basketball games to cover in Los Angeles on the 23rd and in Reno on the 29th. I wasn't planning to fly cross-country, but my mother sent me a plane ticket and asked me to come for a very special reason.

It turned out to be my 94-year-old grandmother's last Christmas, and it meant so much to me to have one last opportunity to spend some time with the best person I ever knew in my life.

Two months later I was flying east again, this time for her funeral.

There's no great point to this, other than the easy one. Let the people you love know exactly how you feel about them this Christmas. It may mean more to them in the short run, but in the end, it's the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Merry Christmas to all my old -- and new -- friends from the Class of 1967. To Dale, Gail, Nan and all the rest of you, I wish I had known you better then, but I'm glad I'm getting to know all of you now.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The most wonderful time of the year?

You may already know this, but the suicide rate spikes right around this time of the year.

If you think about it, it's understandable. All the Christmas spirit, all the shopping, cooking and baking, and all those wonderful songs ...

Editor's note: Like "Leroy the Redneck Reindeer?"

Well, maybe not that one.

"And it was Leroy The Redneck Reindeer, hooked to the front of the sleigh. Delivering toys to all the good ol' boys and girls along the way."

Face it, folks. At Christmas time, you're supposed to be happy. You're supposed to get a lot of hugs and kisses, drink a lot of egg nog and listen to the sound of children's happy laughter.

But if you're alone, Christmas is the time of the year you feel it the most. Maybe you're divorced and your kids live in another state. Maybe you never had kids, and your parents have long since passed away.

Christmas is one of those times when if you're unhappy, it feels as if everyone else in the world is happier than you are.

For some folks, Christmas is something to be survived.

So if you have friends or relatives in this situation, give them a call. Give them a hug. Drop them a line.

Christmas is about friends and family.

It's nice to have them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

College expenses can be crippling

How much did it cost you to go to college?

Don't worry, I'm not asking for specifics. The odds are pretty good that it was a lot less than it costs now, even if it did strain our budgets at the time.

I mention this because of an announcement by Harvard -- yes, the Harvard -- that from now on, families making up to $180,000 a year would be required to pay no more than 10 percent of their annual income for a child's tuition at the school.

Considering that the total cost of a Harvard education as of this year is about $46,500 a year, with tuition about two-thirds of that, that's a pretty good deal.

I'm no expert on this, but I have been paying college expenses for a student for eight of the last nine school years, finishing in May 2007. We told our two young students that we would pay $15,000 a year for four years and that anything beyond that was up to them. We based the numbers on what a year at a state university would cost here in California.

Our kids were fortunate in that they finished school without any debts, but there are millions of young adults in this country staggering under the burden of college loans that they needed to start them on the way.

Some of them don't get out from under until it's time to send their own kids to college.

Some never do.

Many European countries offer free education for qualified students. My lovely wife earned doctorates in astronomy and geophysics and never had to pay any tuition. Some folks in this country would call that socialism, but it seems to me a pretty good way to make use of the talent of the people in a country.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Perspective on holidays changes with age

It's a little more than two weeks till Christmas, and we've already finished most of our shopping.

It helps that our kids are grown, and we don't have any grandchildren yet. In fact, the only actual children for whom we shop are my two young nephews.

We're not quite at the gift certificates or checks stage, but instead of getting each of our two kids eight or nine gifts, we're down to two or three for about the same amount of money. Of course, we've acquired a son-in-law and a prospective daughter-in-law as well, which does complicate things a little.

What's great about it though is that most of our Christmas these days is giving, not receiving.

My wife and I have most of what we need; in fact, we got a wonderful Christmas gift already in the form of the great health news I wrote about earlier this week. We'll buy something for each other, but mostly, we spend money on the people we love.

That's so much more fun than waiting and wondering whether we'll get what we want and as often as not being disappointed.

"What, no pony again?"

Yup, definitely better this way.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Maybe I'm an old codger, but ...

The Class of '67 probably isn't the target demographic of the proposed bailout of those folks who got into trouble with gimmick mortgages the last few years.

Most of us who own homes are probably well along into our mortgages -- if we haven't already paid them off -- and most of us probably didn't get interest-only or teaser-rate mortgages.

Most of you probably don't live in parts of the country where 1,400 square-foot homes in nice neighborhoods reached $1 million in value at the peak of the boom.

But I would imagine that most of you grew up dreaming of someday owning your own home -- picket fence, 2.3 kids and a dog named Scooter along with it.

This bailout -- helping folks stay in their homes but keeping prices high -- is kind of controversial.

I'd love to know what you think about it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sometimes God really does smile at us

We've had a bit of a scare in my house the last couple of weeks.

The kind of scare I'm sure many other people in the class have gone through before; I'm not trying to make us sound unique. But no matter how many other people go through it, it's still tough to be in the middle of it.

Shortly after we returned from our trip to Virginia for the reunion, my lovely wife began showing some symptoms that might possibly have signaled a particularly virulent form of cancer. Nicole had one test, and all they were able to say from the first test was that they needed to have another test.

Now Nicole is the bravest person I know. She hasn't complained, or cried, or talked about what I should do after she's gone. She just faced the problem, head-on.

Today we had the second test, and when we got the results, I could feel the relief as a palpable thing. A minor irritation, no cancer at all.

Sometimes God really does smile at us, and sometimes we can feel the safety in which he holds us. My mother had a friend who was a poet and philosopher, and one piece of advice she gave changed my life for the better.

"Never ask, 'Why me, God?' Instead, it is much better to say to yourself, 'So this is what it feels like.'"

None of our problems are unique, but it's still nice when things turn out for the best.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Did any of us know how lucky we were?

I got an e-mail from Darla Garber the other day in which she said I was crazy for saying she looked like a "young goddess" in high school.

Anyone who looked at our yearbook pictures from back then will see that Darla was a beautiful blonde in the full bloom of youth. Jeez, I wonder if there's ever an age at which girls look better than when they're 17.

Heck, when I looked at our senior yearbook for the first time since 1971 and saw myself in some of the activity pictures, I found myself amazed that I really wasn't the troll I thought I was.

A great philosopher -- I think it was either Plato or Spiro Agnew -- put it best.

"Youth is wasted on the young."

Ain't it the truth.

I talked to several of you at the reunion -- sorry to keep picking on Darla and Dale -- who really don't seem to have had any idea how lovely you were back then, and I found myself wondering if anyone really did. Or were we all so insecure that we could only see the flaws in ourselves?

As at adult who has fought a -- mostly losing -- perennial battle to keep my weight under 200 pounds, I marvel at pictures of a kid who was every bit as tall as I am now and weighed only about 160. When I dieted for six months in the late '80s and got down to 160, people asked me if I was ill. I didn't look ill in 1967.

I was trying to think of who had been generally regarded as the most beautiful girls in our class (by the guys, of course), and some of the names that came to mind were Karen Theurer, Susie Ludtke and Nancy Abt.

Somehow I have a feeling that even they weren't as confident about how they looked as they should have been.

In a post back in the early days of this site, I remember Dale saying that there were boys she had hoped would ask her out who never did. As a former boy myself, I'd be willing to bet that at least some of those boys probably wanted to go out with her but didn't have the nerve to ask.

Forty years probably have changed some of that. One of the happiest moments of my life was a result of my lovely wife's courage. When Nicole and I were first dating, I was seeing someone else as well. On our third date, when I took her home, she said the most wonderful thing I ever heard in my life.

She told me that she knew I was seeing someone else and she didn't think I would ultimately choose her. But she said she wanted to keep seeing me because she thought I was worth it.

Do you think any of us knew back then that we really were special, or were we all just foundering, trying to keep from drowning and hoping someday to make it to shore?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's a fascinating thing about diversity

"We weren't just whitebread, we were racist."

That's a pretty courageous comment that was left at the end of an earlier post, and although it's easier to see this 40 years later, some folks never do figure it out.

I had exactly one black kid in a class with me the whole time I was at Woodson, and that was my senior year in symphonic band. I don't know if I ever met anyone who talked less than Larry Smith, although he may have been so intimidated that he figured the smartest thing to say was nothing.

The defining moment for me in high school came as a senior. I don't know if any of you were in the same homeroom I was; the teacher was a woman whose name I can't remember. It may have been Howell. She was a German teacher who I think actually had come from Germany.

It was the fall of 1966 and there had been quite a few riots that summer. I remember her comment: "The black people don't want to work at all. All they want is the welfare."

She already wasn't real fond of me, but when I spoke up, it got a lot worse. I couldn't believe myself when I said out loud, "That's a really racist thing to say."

A few days later we elected our homeroom representative to the Student Government. The class elected me, but she refused to allow it. A week later, when she was told she didn't have the right to block an election, I was elected again.

But I digress.

The black kids I remember from Woodson dressed pretty much like we did and talked pretty much like we did. Can you imagine how we would have reacted if they had worn dashikis to school?

In the fall of 1968, when I was in the Jefferson Society at the University of Virginia, we had a guest speaker. Charles Hamilton was the co-author of "Black Power" with Stokely Carmichael, and during the Q&A period, one of our Southern gentlemen asked him, "Mr. Hamilton, would you like to be white?"

I always thought he missed a bet with his answer. "That's an insulting question."

I would have liked it if he had talked about how being white might make life easier, but that didn't mean it was better.

I don't think we knew that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sports just not worth it anymore

I would never have thought there would come a day when I would feel this way, but I am completely fed up with big-time professional and college sports.

It's odd to hear myself saying that. For 16 years, I made my living as a sports reporter in seven different states, covering some of the biggest sporting events in the world.

Super Bowl? Been there.

World Series? Done that.

Final Four? Twice, including the amazing Villanova-Georgetown game in 1985.

But other than a few Dodger games -- I still love going to the stadium -- I haven't watched a sporting event all the way through in close to 10 years. I don't think I've watched pro football on TV at all in five years.

There's just too much ... I can't think of any other way to say this ... shit going on along with the games. Steroids, mega-contracts, gambling, thuggish behavior on and off the field.

I feel like weeping for young kids growing up who really live and die with their favorite teams. How do you explain to a young kid that because he doesn't live in a large enough city, his favorite players won't stay? How do you explain to him that his favorite quarterback enjoys watching dogs fight to the death? Or that his home-run hero cheated, lied and took all sorts of drugs to do what he did?

My son isn't a sports fan. He loved playing sports, and we go to ballgames, but he doesn't follow any teams. He gets excited when the World Cup comes around -- he was born in France -- but that's about it.

That's why I didn't have to explain anything about Sean Taylor to him. (Of course, he's 22. I don't have to explain much to him) I don't know if Taylor was a random victim of crime or if his death had some connection to his own past. It doesn't really matter. It's tragic either way.

Heck, we grew up in a simpler time, cheering for Sonny Jurgensen and Charlie Taylor, for Frank Howard and the rest of the hapless Senators. Probably the happiest day of my life to that point was Dec. 31, 1972, when the Redskins beat Dallas to advance to their first Super Bowl.

Do kids still care that much? Do we even allow them to care that much?

I still read the sports pages. I still check for scores, and I still feel a twinge if my formerly favorite teams lose. But that's all it is. A twinge.

Mostly I get about as much enjoyment from sports now as I do following politics and business.

Which is to say, not much.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Were we really completely 'whitebread?'

If you look at yesterday's post, the picture from the reunion, there's one thing that's very apparent.

All of us were white and most of us were what would be called "Anglo."

Now I know that not all of the 804 of us in the Class of '67 were white and Anglo-Saxon, let alone Protestant, but there was definitely a WASPy flavor to our school back then.

Think about it. We lived in the Washington, D.C., area, and in only one of the four years we were at Woodson were there any black kids on our basketball team. As for Latinos, I work in a city that is 68 percent Latino and even though we must have had a few kids with Latino names -- lovely cheerleader Susan Morales comes to mind -- there certainly wasn't anything going on in terms of culture beyond the Spanish Club.

So tell me.

What am I missing?

Were we really that whitebread, or was there something going on that I missed?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not just getting older, getting better

We started our family retirement tour this weekend, checking out places we might consider retiring to in 2010 after we sell our overvalued L.A. area home.

We spent the weekend in a fascinating little community just outside Tehachapi. It's called Bear Valley Springs, and it's got great mountain homes with fabulous views for less than $400,000. To those of you not living in our state, that may sound ridiculous. Well, I don't blame you. California housing prices are ridiculous.

Anyway, we returned home feeling pretty good and I found the reunion CD in the mailbox. Thought I'd post this picture for all of you. Figured it was a nice start and an easy post after a four-day weekend.

So remember when you look at the picture, Class of '67: We're not just getting older, we're getting better.

And as the great south Florida philosopher James Buffett once said, "I'm growing older but not up."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Truly the best family holiday of all

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the most uniquely American of all holidays and the one of which I have the fewest memories from youth.

For some reason, I remember 1974, a big family gathering in Columbus, Ohio. I remember being absolutely certain the Redskins would finish their victory over Dallas -- Staubach had been knocked out of the game -- and then Clint Longley came off the bench and threw that long, last-minute touchdown.

Driving back to Virginia that Sunday, we got stuck in a snowstorm and my fiancee and I wound up trapped in Breezewood, Pa., for two days.

Today I've got family in Virginia and Ohio, my lovely daughter and her husband in Beijing and my son, his girlfriend and my wife with me here in California. Life is good.

The picture is the last of those from Dena, and it isn't a member of our class. Cheryl Newman was a freshman cheerleader in 1966-67, but this picture says more about the exuberance and the sheer happiness of being young than any picture I've got.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Looking for Margie Smith . . .

Does anyone out there know where Margie Smith is? We didn't see each other much after she married in '71. The most recent address Dale has on her is from '97, in Florida.
At that time, her name was still Marjorie Smith Danzig. I'd love to check in with her again, my memories of her are of an adventurous, fun-loving, and compassionate person.

Many thanks.

~ Dena Ward Clayton

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Where Were You That Day?

This is the month President John F. Kennedy was shot. It was1963; our freshmen year.

Where were each of you on that never to be forgotten day?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another plug for the message boards

All right, ladies and gents, or as they said when I lived in Vienna in 1977, meine damen und herren.

Check out the message boards. So far, at least, the only person who has taken advantage of them is Dena. If you're not interested in the first two topics I posted -- great songs and movies of 1967 -- create topics of your own.

As for the pictures, let's move along to another one from the yearbook, one of our posters here -- the lovely and vivacious Gail Schultz.


More to come.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We've added yet another new feature

Check out our message boards by clicking on the appropriate link at "67 Topics" on the right side of the page. It's a little bit of a pain the first time because you have to register a user name and a password (make them the same, it's easier).

After that you can comment on existing topics as well as creating new topics of your own.

We'll throw in a picture here of one of our most frequent commenters, the lovely Nan.

Your First Day at Woodson

Making the transition from a Middle School to a High School is pretty intimidating even knowing most of the kids you have gone to school with for the last 8 or 9 years. For those of you who came to this area from somewhere else, how scarey was that first day, whether it was your freshmen, sophomore, junior or senior year?

I came from a junior high school in Montgomery, AL that probably had about 60 classmates in the entire 9th grade class. My first day sophomore year at Woodson left me in shell shock. And we had only 5 minutes between classes??????

Did everyone else who was new to the area have the same feeling?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

If I don't post this one, I know Dena will

Most of these pictures have been coming courtesy of Dena Clayton, who actually could be posting them herself but hasn't figured out how.

I've been using my Microsoft Picture It software to frame them properly and add highlights so that we're getting a little more than old yearbook pages.

As for this picture ...

It's amazing how many people have looked at this picture and laughed, but the irony of it all is that I was really proud of it.

Sure I looked like the ultimate doofus with my mouth hanging wide open, but take a look at how high my feet were above the horse.

I really cleared that baby. These days, I'd probably pull a hamstring
just running up to it.

Still more about these amazing pictures

I'm posting quite a bit today, but you can blame it on Dena for sending me all these great pictures.

I've already punked Dale and myself, so now it's Sean's turn. Except for one thing. When I saw Sean's picture in the yearbook, I found myself thinking, "Wow! Now that's a cool picture."

I decided to show you both his picture and the guy next to him, just for the contrast. The guy next to him -- who I legitimately don't remember -- looks like a high-school kid.

Sean looks like a member of the Rat Pack, ready for a night on the town in Vegas with Sammy, Frank and Dino. His hair looks great and the look on his face tells us that he is way too cool for the room.

Am I right or am I right?

I wonder why we were all so serious

If you look at our yearbook pictures, one thing you will see is that very few of us were smiling.

Maybe it was because we were such serious people, but I doubt it. I have a feeling it was probably that we knew these were our senior pictures and they were the ones that would be sent out with our college applications.

I know that's how my mother got me to cut my hair shorter than it had been since eighth grade. She reminded me these pictures would be sent to my grandparents, which turned out to be a real mixed blessing.

For the next 15 years, whenever I would visit my grandparents, my grandfather always pointed to this picture on top of his television and said, "We liked it when your hair was like that."

Now I was never Arlo Guthrie or Abbie Hoffman, but I couldn't tell him that my hair was actually never like that -- except the day they took that picture.

Still, I wish I had thought to at least smile.

Yes, we were children, but still ...

It's very strange to me when I look at these pictures.

Editor's note: Aren't you at least going to thank Dena?

Oh, pardon my manners.

Editor's note: You mean lack of manners, don't you?

Ignore him. He's just upset that he missed the "Full House" marathon. But anyway, thanks to Dena Clayton and her trusty scanner, I've got some old yearbook pictures for the site.

What's strange about them is that we were mostly 16 or 17 when they were taken, but when I look at the pictures, we look much older than the 16- or 17-year-olds I've seen in raising my own children.

Maybe it's that the pictures are black and white, or maybe it's the difference in styles. But where I could look at female friends of my daughter or my son at the time and see nothing more than young kids, you know what I think when I look at this picture?

Hubba hubba.

Now I know I've embarrassed Dale enough by talking about how beautiful she was in high school, but I'm serious. When I look at that picture, I don't see a 17-year-old.

I wonder why that is.

Maybe it's because I know the person she grew up to be, or maybe it's because in looking at pictures of myself, it puts it all into perspective for me.

Anyway, it's a nice picture.

Friday, November 16, 2007

These days, we might as well not exist

Remember when it was all about us?

We were the Pepsi generation, those who thought young, the ones folks selling everything from soda pop to fast cars wanted to reach. We were the pig in the snake, as some have described it, the big bump in population traveling from crayons to caskets.

In a "Doonesbury" some years back, Garry Trudeau poked fun at the Baby Boomers by saying it would be obvious when we were starting to die because USA Today would be running articles about the hot new funeral homes.

All right now. When was the last time you felt an advertiser was trying to sell his product to you? If you're a member of the Class of 1967, it was probably about four years ago, unless the product was pharmaceuticals, denture creams or adult diapers.

You see, the coveted demographic advertisers are seeking is called 18-54, meaning that if you're under 18 or over 54, you're not their audience. It's a little short-sighted at both ends of the spectrum, especially since those 55 and older have more money these days than any other segment of society.

I asked a friend in advertising about that contradiction, and her response was that even though older people spend money, their buying habits tend to be well established.

Now I don't know if all that's true. Some of us may have had fathers who always bought Chevrolets or Zenith television sets, but I've never bought the same kind of car twice in a row in my life.

I'm not buying denture cream, and I don't think I've ever asked my doctor for a different drug than the ones he prescribed. As for Depends, I wouldn't tell you if I were buying them.

But isn't it weird to not exist?

Isn't it weird to be ignored by advertisers?

I don't know about you, but I bought my first iPod after my 55th birthday. I don't think all my habits are set in stone just yet.

I still don't care for Pepsi.

Never did.

I'm a Dr. Pepper man.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Child abuse in the 1960's???

Nowadays we hear of child abuse, domestic abuse, ADHD, and many other mental, emotional and physical issues that shape a person's future.

Ever wonder what was happening in our era? Statistically you have to figure it was all around us.

I was oblivious. A few years out of high school I heard a neighborhood "kid" committed suicide. Made me wonder if anyone noticed his pain.

Do you all remember being suspicious that something was going on with a friend's situation?


Into the Wild...Another Woodson Classmate

This is not about our 1967 class, but it is about a former W.T. Woodson classmate. There is a movie currently playing in theaters that is about the life and death of a former WTW cross-country athelete, Chris McCandless. It is directed by Sean Penn. I was clueless until I read a huge review a week or so ago in the insert magazine "Fairfax Extra" of the Washington Post. The movie is titled "Into the Wild" and is the true story of a young man's tragic battle with nature. I plan to see this movie, but have not yet been able to manage the time. I also noticed this weekend, in the "Book World" insert in the Sunday Washington Post, the book "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer, is No. 2 on the Bestsellers List for nonfiction.

Has anyone either read the book or seen the movie? I would love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where in the heck did I leave my car?

The last of the pictures I received from Gene Bacon via Dale, and I've got to admit I'm wondering about this one.

I showed it to my 22-year-old son and his response was simple.


Probably a fairly good caption for the picture.

"Why is there air?" "What's the meaning of life?" "Where in the heck did I leave my car?"

Actually, if that picture had been of me, the caption would have been simpler.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A tribute to someone who deserves one

I hope this isn't more than momentarily confusing, because the picture has nothing to do with what I'm writing about.

This is something I've been thinking about for the last three weeks, because in some respects, I really wondered why I had gone to the reunion. My younger brother Steve, who was 7 when I graduated from Woodson, put it best:

"Why are you going to your reunion? You hated high school."

Maybe, but time really does heal almost all wounds -- if you wait long enough.

As it turns out, there was one really special person in our graduating class, even if we didn't know it at the time.

I never met Dale Morgan until October 20th, 2007, more than 40 years after we left Woodson, but she deserves so much credit as the person who has put a tremendous amount of effort into keeping our class together. Or at least as together as 804 people scattered all over the world can be.

I saw it in her reunion efforts, and in her open friendliness with people she never knew and others who weren't even part of our class, and I have seen it so much in her friendly comments to people on this Web site in the last three weeks.

She really is something, isn't she?

It is my loss that I never knew Dale in high school. She was just one of those beautiful girls who seemed so much like young goddesses to me at the time. I have come to see since then that all of us were just kids with our own flaws, weaknesses and insecurities, and I did what I could to make sure my own kids had as little trouble in that area as possible.

If any of you were fortunate enough to have read Dan Jenkins' wonderful book, "Baja Oklahoma," you may remember that in the final scene, Willie Nelson introduces the heroine, Juanita Hutchins, as "the mother of our country."

In an earlier comment, Dale told me how lovely my daughter was and then said she hadn't been fortunate enough to have children of her own.

Wrong, Dale.

In the very best way, you are the mother of our class.

I'm proud to know you at last.

All right then, so it wasn't Gene

So Gene isn't in the pictures.

He's the one who took them.

I still want to know where they met Wilford Brimley. I thought he was terrific as the manager in "The Natural."

Hey everyone, send more pictures.

So this guy has got to be Gene, I guess

More of the Bacon pictures.

Since this was the only one with one person in it, I figure it has to be the guy who sent them in. He actually looks pretty good for a guy even older than we are.

You may have heard of the game, "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," that people play on the Internet.

Should we consider "Six Degrees of Gene Bacon?"

Thanks for the pictures, Gene. Sorry to abuse you, but it's all in the spirit of fun.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gene, Gene, he's our man ...

Gene Bacon wasn't a member of our class.

He was one of the big kids, a senior when we were juniors, and while his name sounds vaguely familiar, I don't remember knowing him. To be fair, though, I would probably be more likely to remember him if he were a beautiful girl I had worshipped from afar.

Editor's note: Didn't you worship all girls from afar in high school?

Hey, I was young and foolish.

Editor's note: Now you're just foolish.

Anyway, Gene sent Dale some pictures of him and some Woodson friends of his from the Class of 1967. Since we're suckers for pictures here, we'll start posting them. We'll leave it to you to tell us who you are, where the photos were taken and which one is Gene.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Have you seen this with your kids?

My daughter graduated from high school in 1998, and I was pretty amazed when I attended her Class Night. She had a 3.7 grade point average -- grades I only dreamed of -- and she didn't rank in the top third of her class.

In fact, the top 20 percent were all above 4.0, thanks to advanced placement and honors classes. There were six or seven kids who all had perfect 4.5 averages, the highest you could get by taking a maximum number of AP classes.

Even though Pauline's grades were only great, she managed to enter college with nearly a third of the credits she needed to graduate. Of course, since we promised to pay for four years, she used the whole four years at UCLA and got two bachelor's degrees.

The purpose of this isn't to brag about my kids -- well, maybe a little -- but to ask you if your kids had the same competition for grades and the same grade inflation that we have here in Southern California.

When I graduated from Woodson in 1967, I had only about a 3.1 average. That was good enough to sneak into the top 20 percent of the class, and I don't think we were stupider back then than our kids are now.

For one thing, we had a tougher grading scale -- 94 for an A, 87 for a B, 80 for a C and 70 to pass. My kids were always on 90, 80, 70, 60.

It's odd. You may have noticed that Woodson now ranks consistently among the top 100 high schools in the country because of its large number of advanced placement and honors classes. We didn't have any of those, as I recall.

Did your kids enjoy themselves in school, or were they constantly working for grades?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Memories of Teachers, part 1

We recall teachers for all manner of different reasons -- inspiring, boring, unreasonable, friendly, strict, brilliant, outrageous.

It's humor that shows up in my clearest memories of certain teachers.

Here is the Miss Watkins' story I mentioned in a comment on 11/4.

One day, Miss Watkins shared a vignette from a visit home to Georgia the previous summer. She attended a church meeting in which the congregation was debating whether to keep the King James' version of the Bible or to begin using the Revised Standard Version.

A silver haired lady bolted to her feet, her eyes flashing fire. To dramatize the woman's rermarks, Miss W. intensified her own southern speech and she delivered this line loudly, and with gusto, "If the King James Bible was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me!"

The fourth period English students cracked up, Miss Watkins laughing right along with us.

She always treated us as adults who were on par with her -- what a class act. Who else enjoyed Miss Watkins?

Which teachers do YOU remember -- and why??

~ Dena Ward Clayton

Friday, November 9, 2007

Here's the last of the old pictures

Look at those kids, all bright-eyed and looking ahead to the future.

I seem to remember the gold sashes were for honors graduates, so who were those two?

This is the last of the graduation pictures.

More About Our Senior Yearbook 23 entries which is pretty good feedback. Most of you still have your yearbooks, at least based on the 23 entries. But I received enough feedback from the Blog plus a few personal emails to make my decision. I have some funds left over from previous reunions and I am going to get our senior yearbook online. Let's see how this goes and maybe we can do the same thing with the freshmen, sophomore, and junior yearbooks. I am paying to have it shipped and scanned because I do not have a scanner at my house. Let's see if this goes smoothly and perhaps someone can offer to scan in the other yearbooks. If we send this company the pages already scanned in, it is free (so they say....).

This is going to be on my back burner for right now due to the upcoming holidays, but anyone who knows me, knows I will get it done as soon as I can. At that time, I'll let you all know.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

40 years later, are we still dreaming?

I've been looking at these graduation pictures and thinking about what that night meant to us.

Most of us were 18, although I wouldn't be 18 until that December, and we had completed the first real accomplishment of our lives -- finishing high school.

I seem to remember that a really high percentage of us were going on to college. I wonder how much the specter of Vietnam came into play for a lot of the guys.

I personally was at a place in my life where I really could have benefitted from working for a year or two or even joining the Army before starting college, but there was no way my parents were going to let me anywhere near jungles and rice paddies.

I wonder how many of us were dreaming that night of the things we hoped to accomplish, things like making a lot of money, running for office, becoming famous or helping to change the world.

Well, 40 years later, most of us have probably done the things we're going to do. We've had our careers, raised our families, made some money.

Do any of us still remember the dreams we dreamed in June 1967?

Did they come true?

Can they still?

A lot has happened in 40 years

A few years back, Billy Joel did a song called "We Didn't Start the Fire," chronicling all that had happened since the beginning of the Baby Boom.

Lots of stuff.

What always amazes me is when I think back -- way back -- and find myself realizing that something had happened since we left Woodson.

For one thing, nobody had heard of Billy Joel in 1967.

But think about this ...

Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the Chicago convention, the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia ... all since 1967.

The moon landing, Woodstock, the big Vietnam War protests ... all since 1967.

Kent State, Spiro Agnew, Watergate, the trial of the Chicago Seven ... all since 1967.

POW/MIA bracelets, pet rocks, WIN buttons, "Disco Duck," heck, disco itself ... all since we left Woodson.

What else?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Helen Roberts is a "Class" Act!!!

Alright...I WAS going to write about something else, but I got this delivery at the door this afternoon..from our very own Helen Roberts. That sweetie not only ordered all of us those class, camaraderie-building pins that had "WTW 1967 4o years" on it for our Friday night football game (10/19/07) for WTW's Homecoming game, but she mailed the remaining ones to me for anyone who missed the game!!!! A little clapping here for Helen!!! Helen has, to my knowledge, never missed a reunion. Plus, to my knowledge, was the financial 'wind beneath the wings' for our class' first reunion----the 10th reunion. She financed that reunion and took the chance of not getting paid back. She is, if none of you know it yet, a really neat, class act, person. I may tell you more about how I became the reunion "mama" as I have become known to many (how sexy is that?????).

Any0ne need one of those pins?

There's something happening here ...

"... what it is ain't exactly clear."

The famous Buffalo Springfield song that says so much about the '60s came out shortly after we graduated, but it seemed an appropriate metaphor for this announcement.

Folks, we're taking off!

I don't know if any of you ever click on "View My Stats" on the right side of the page, but you ought to. For the first two weeks, this site did pretty well, generally pulling 80-90 page views a day, which is very good for most Blogger sites. Our best day ever was 142 on Monday.

Then yesterday we had 295 views, and so far today, we've got 113 at 10:15 a.m.


You're making it great, and we're trying to make it better for you. I've got Dale and Gail signed up to blog when they want to, and I'll be happy to add more of you who want to join in the fun.

Just let me know.

Another picture of two real beauties

When I was in symphonic and marching band in high school, I thought the loveliest girls in the school were in the Baton Corps.

Not to slight any of our cheerleaders -- or any of the other beautiful girls of the '60s -- but coming into contact with the majorettes day after day gave me an appreciation for them.

Joan Ansheles sent me a picture of herself and Rande Barker -- two former twirlers -- on reunion weekend, and all I can say is that both of you look wonderful for 40 years after graduation.

Much more like the Class of '77 or even '87. I'm not even sure these women were born when we graduated.

More pictures from any of you will be greatly appreciated.

Kids, grandkids and pets, too. Although go easy on the pets.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A post for Gail -- and a question

After all the wonderful reunion photos she sent, posting this for Gail MacLeod seems like the least I can do.

After all, as she said, "Blogging doesn't come easy for 58-year-olds."

Since I won't be 58 till December 11th, I guess I can post this:

Judy Juray and Barbara Schmidt -- remember when they crashed their car and died? First people I knew who died. Also, an odd memory at a freshman orientation. Our principal said something to the effect of, "A lot will happen in the coming four years. Some of you won't make it. Some of you will die.

I was in the girls' locker room when the coach came to clean out Barbara Schmidt's things from her locker. Creepy.

Dealing with death probably has become more common to us at this point in our lives. In fact, there were 32 classmates listed in the memory book as deceased. I knew a few of them. I sat beside one of them -- Ray Redd -- twice when we were on "It's Academic." If any of you want to share memories of our departed classmates, this would be a good place to do it.

Even the legends are starting to show up

All right, the lighting isn't great in this one, but here's more of an up close and personal view -- definitely no cell phones -- from graduation.

You can tell it's '67 from the guys' haircuts.

An amazing day on the site. More than 100 different visitors and more than 200 page views -- far and away our best day yet.

Even some of the legends of our class like SG President Bob Douthitt are commenting now.

This site's taking off, folks.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Those were the days, my friends

I don't know if it's possible to make out individuals in this picture, but boy, was that a long line.

Another in a series of snapshots from our graduation.

More to come.

Question about our senior yearbook

I was going to ask Mike to publish this question at some point but will do so now since he has given me access to post on the Blog (YIKES, Mike! Are you crazy?). I noticed he also invited any of you to step up (and for those of you who do your best communicating through writing, please take this opportunity so Mike does not have to prod us each day to step out of our shells). I hope you do. Anyhow, on to my question:

Question: How many of you have lost, misplaced, burned, thrown out, or otherwise are missing your senior yearbook? This is not a trick question; I have a very good reason for asking, but cannot tell you if I do not get at least a representative reply from the class.

Dale Morgan

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A question, a photo and an offer

I doubt we're going to pick out any faces in this picture, but some of the ones that are coming are better.

Here's the question:

Are there any of you out there who would like to post to this site? Not just comments, but doing some of the heavy lifting -- i.e., the writing -- about things that interest you.

I want Dale to write from time to time. She is the one who has done more than anyone else to keep the Class of '67 together as an entity over the years. I'm just a Johnny-come-lately who took the initiative to start a site for all of us. I love to write. I get paid to write. But I should not be the only one writing here.

I have already invited Dale to write. If there are others of you who would like to be invited to contribute when you want to, just let me know.

Now for a true blast from the past

All right, people.

We've been enjoying all these pictures of ourselves in the present. Now we're going to start giving you something different.

Something older.

Something from June 1967.

Over the next few days, enjoy these pictures and comment on whatever memories they bring back.

You can't all be in the CIA or the Witness Protection Program. Some of you need to start commenting.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The last of the MacLeods at least for now

Let's see. This picture, from left, is Spiro Agnew, the Doublemint twins, Peter Lorre and Audrey Hepburn.

Editor's note: No it isn't. All of those people are dead.

No, the people in the picture are alive.

Editor's note: You know that isn't what I meant.

The Doublemint twins are dead? Oh no!

Anyway, this is the last of Gail's great reunion pictures. I'm open to printing more, either from the reunion, of your children or grandchildren, or even pictures of you from when you looked the best you ever looked in your life.

I'm waiting.

Sometimes someone else has a good point

Nan, I withdraw the poll question.

I think a better question -- and someday we may try dealing with it -- is why our kids are growing up so fast these days.

Another picture -- and a poll question

A lot of backs in this picture.

Five of you answered my Halloween poll, but now I'm going to post a new, more serious one.

Remember, you will be completely anonymous in your answers, but I hope more of you will take the time to answer this one.

I've talked with my kids about how things were different when I was in high school, and I don't expect comments on this (although you're welcome to use "Anonymous if you want), but I would like a simple yes or no answer to the poll question.

Look to the right for it.

Back to Gail's pictures for the wrapup

Who are these people and what did they do with those young kids we used to be?

Actually, most of the folks in these photos of Gail's that we've been running look pretty good for people who are pushing 60.

Still got a couple more photos to go, and we'll get to them very soon.

Then, unless you people start sending me pictures to use, I'm going to have to start posting shots of my kids.

They're great-looking kids, but I'd rather have pictures from you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What was your best day at Woodson?

I'm getting tired of reading my own words, so I want to try something different.

I'm not going to post anything else until Saturday or Sunday, because I want to see if I can get those of you who are faithfully visiting this site to speak up. When you comment, you can establish an identity, or if that's a pain, blog as anonymous and just include your name in the post.

What I want to know -- and I'm not going to start you off with my own -- is what was your best day at Woodson. Most of us were there from September 1963 to June 1967. You can pick any day except one. It can't be graduation. I don't want to hear that your best day was your last one.

Let's have a conversation.

I'll add my own later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Because somebody had to do it

Once a math nerd, always a math nerd.

I don't know if any of you went through the back of the memory book from our recent reunion to figure out where members of the Class of '67 are living.

But I did.

There were 498 addresses listed for members of our class, and amazingly, only one of them was outside the United States. Lauren Koskella, come on down! Or come on up from your home in Mexico.

As might be expected, there are more Cavaliers living in Virginia than anywhere else -- 247 of us, just below 50 percent. It didn't surprise me that 39 live in Florida and 23 live in Maryland, the next two largest contingents.

Actually, the first states that made me wonder were the four in Indiana and Idaho. I've been to both of those places. Three in Kansas was boosted by the Abrahamsons in Lawrence, but someone else also chose the state that stretches almost forever from east to west if you're driving from St. Louis to Denver.

Not that I want to put down anybody's home state. I myself live in the state that was compared to a bar of granola (get rid of the flakes and all you have are fruits and nuts), along with 17 other classmates.

Surprisingly, there are six states where none of us live -- Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota. Of course there are 300 of us unaccounted for; maybe they're all hanging out in Biloxi or Fargo.

If I've learned one thing in 40 years, it's that this is a hell of a big country.

Still working through the pictures

Still a few more of Gail's pictures to go, this one of folks hanging around the bar.

I recognize Susan Spell Abrahamson from the dress.

I figure I'll get through these in the next couple of days. If any of you want to send me more, I'll be happy to post them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Please sign our guestbook

Look on the right side of the page. We now have a guestbook. Please sign in the next time you visit.

I knew you, but I can't remember how

One of the interesting things I noticed at our reunion recently was that I remembered quite a few people from their names and their yearbook pictures, but I didn't remember in what context I had known them.

I have only kept in touch with two people from our class in the 40 years since we left Woodson, and one of them didn't graduate with us. Gary Oleson was one of my best friends, and Tracy Antley was with us for three years before her military dad was transferred.

Some of you I knew because you were, well, famous at Woodson. I actually saw one person who I had seen in the news. No, not O.J. You probably remember that our own Lee Millette was the judge in the Washington sniper case.

Then there's movie star Mike Willis, airline captain Mike Morton, and I think someone who was the emporer of Togo. Or maybe he owned a Togo's franchise. I can't remember.

But it was exceedingly odd to see Helen Roberts, who I couldn't have recognized in a year, and to know from the picture on her name tag that I had known her.

Editor's note: In the Biblical sense?

Not me. I didn't even know what the Biblical sense was at that age.

Some of us were obviously scarred by high school. Nothing made me sadder about the reunion than reading Jeff Newman's entry in the memory book, unless it was all the people I would loved to have seen entries from who just weren't there.

I knew Gail, Carol, Jennifer and a number of you in high school, but for the life of me I can't remember how or why. As for the lovely Dale and a few others, they were way out of my league in 1967.

It's funny. Forty years ago, we all probably had a lot to offer to each other that we never gave. I've seen posts here from folks who are amazed to learn that people they thought had it together in high school were just as scared and insecure as they were.

I was stunned to read Stacy Delano's post about her lousy time at the prom. I thought I was the only one who went with someone I had absolutely no chemistry with, but I suppose there were more than just the two of us.

Actually, it doesn't matter how we did or didn't know each other then. It's now and moving forward from now that matters, and that's one of the reasons I started this site.

I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Friendship is what matters most of all

Note to readers: I wrote this as a newspaper column in 2001. I think it still resonates; I hope you get something from it.

It has been a long, long time since he’s seen his friends, the friends he grew up with.

Whenever he thinks of them, he remembers a line from the playwright Tennessee Williams, who said it first and best in “The Glass Menagerie:”

“Time is the farthest distance between two places.”

He left home to find a new home nearly 20 years ago, walking away from the people and places of his youth to try and find something for himself as an adult. Twenty years later, living on the other side of the country, he knows what he has found and knows what he has lost.

It has been more than 30 years since he and his friends grew up together in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. They shared their dreams. They talked as children do of wanting to change the world, to make a difference, to be great men. Now middle aged, most of them would be happy just to be, well, happy.

The four friends grew up within 10 miles of each other, two the sons of military men and two the sons of federal employees. Government is big business in Washington, and before the dot-com boom, the odds were pretty good the best jobs in town would be government jobs.

Only one of the four lives there now, and he traveled far from home several times only to return. He’s worked in south Florida and west Texas, but now he’s home again as producer and sidekick of a new radio talk show. He used to dream of being Larry King, and now he’s happy just to be part of the game.

The other three live a long way from where they were young. One went to Oklahoma and then to Colorado; he’s a golf reporter for the leading newspaper in his part of the country. Another went west to go to film school in Southern California, and is still hanging onto the dream of someday selling that big script and buying a house in Malibu.

The third was a wanderer, traveling from state to state working in the newspaper business before finally finding a home outside Los Angeles. He lived in seven states in 10 years before settling down, and the wanderlust still tugs at him every so often. He figures it’s in his blood.

Only for a very few of us do things work out exactly the way you dream them when you’re 17. Most of us drift along, changing our plans when need be, trying to do the right thing and usually settling just for not doing anything wrong.

It’s funny. When you’re a kid, you dream of people shouting your name from the rooftops, but by the time you reach middle age, you find you’re happy just being able to sleep peacefully at night.

The first of the four friends already has turned 50. A second will follow this fall and the other two will reach that milestone within the next two years or so. For many men, that’s the age at which they start seriously considering their mortality. It has been said that the first time a man thinks of his own death is when his father dies, and for the Virginian and the Coloradoan, that day already has come.

But dreams die long before people do.

The Virginian was married for more than 15 years. He and his wife tried to have children and couldn’t. Eventually they drifted apart and were divorced. She moved back home and he’s alone.

In Colorado, the sportswriter is still single. The women come and go in his life, but he’s still looking for the sort of relationship his parents had. “Leave it to Beaver” stuff. A real happy home. He knows time is running out, but he doesn’t want to give up.

In California, the would-be movie mogul keeps waiting for that big breakthrough. There’s big money to be made in Hollywood, but except for a year as a staff writer on a soap opera and a few scripts for nighttime dramas, he hasn’t seen it. He’s living la vida pobra in the land of la vida loca, raising a family with good values on a budget that doesn’t often balance.

The wanderer looks at life from the other side of 50, wondering about the years that are passed and worrying about the ones to come. His days as the young hotshot are long gone, and he finds himself remembering things he never thought he would.

“Don’t trust anyone over 30.”

“Hope I die before I get old.”

Sometimes he smiles at the thought of it all. Were we ever really that young? Were we so arrogant that we never considered the possibility of gray hair, sagging bellies and slowing reactions?

Of course we were. If there’s one thing it’s impossible to consider when you’re young, it’s how it will feel to be middle-aged or old.

He remembers once asking his mother when you start to feel different, when you start to feel deep inside that you have changed.

“You never do.”

His perspective is still somewhat limited, but he understands her now. There are times he feels a thousand years old, but other times when he still feels 17.

Sometimes he thinks of reunions, but he knows it wouldn’t be the same. Something about being able to get back to the place, but not the time. He thinks it was Paul Simon or Harry Chapin who said it, but he’s not quite sure.

He sees his friends one at a time once in a while, but he knows the four of them will never be together in the way they were 30 years ago.

Life is a series of arrivals and departures. We lose people along the way, and if we’re lucky we find others. But true friendship, like rock and roll, never really dies.

And say what you will, but there is nothing in the world more important than friendship – not fame, not wealth, not even happiness.

If you’re lucky, you have friends who love you.

If you’re unlucky, you rarely see them. Instead, life becomes a constant struggle to bridge time, the farthest distance between two places.

Photos, photos, photos

I've been dreading posting this one, but since Gail went to the trouble to take it, I figured I'd better.

Yes, this is me, someone who probably could have eaten the high-school me.

Boy, did I get old.

How about yet another photo?

Somehow I can just picture these three young ladies standing in front of a locker in 1967, talking about the upcoming prom or graduation.

I'm really disappointed in retrospect that I didn't bring my own camera to shoot some pictures; then again, I didn't even think to bring pictures of my two amazing kids to show around.

Since I've got the controls of Webflight 67, you will get to see those pictures eventually.

More still to come.

Sure are a lot of Gail's photos

A few classmates and at least one guy who was way too young to have been part of our class.

It's funny about the spouses who were present. My good friend Gary Oleson didn't bring his wife, who is significantly younger than he is.

I was disappointed that I didn't get to meet her, but I certainly can understand her thinking.

"I don't want to hang around with all those old people. ... Oh, honey, I didn't mean you."

It's strange. There are still times that deep inside, I have all the feelings and insecurities of a 17-year-old. I remember asking my mother when that changes. She told me it never does.

I hope she's wrong. There's a good chance I'm going to be a grandfather next year, and the last thing this world needs is a 17-year-old grandfather.

Still more Gail pictures coming.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Number four in the MacLeod portfolio

Well, we finally made it to the reunion.

I think there were three yearbooks in play at one table or another, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who lost mine decades ago and was eager to see it.

Hey, what about all those little cutouts of our senior pictures on the tables?

I never found mine.

Hope some of you had better luck.

It's wonderful to get to live your dream

Mike Willis told me he wasn't our Class Clown, even though I had thought he was.

That's all right, though. I'm sure there are plenty of you who got to live your dream, but most of us probably weren't as visible as he has been. Even though I'm going to have to watch them again to see him, Mike has been in all sorts of movies and television shows I've seen and enjoyed.

Jeez, he was even in Cecil B. Demented, that great John Waters movie in which Melanie Griffith got to go even more over the top than she usually does.

"I am ready for my closeup, Mr. Demented."

I certainly hope those of you who still live in the Washington, D.C., area have made it downtown to see at least one of his performances with the Woolly Mammoth theatre company. I haven't, but I've got an excuse. I live in California.

Plenty of people don't like being in front of an audience, but I think it's one of the biggest rushes there is. I only did a little acting myself -- at the community theatre and college level -- but I've been on television a couple of times and I know how Mike must feel.

If you didn't know it before, check him out in movies like "Tin Men," "Pushing Tin, "Men in Black" and others.

Mike Willis was a great guy in high school and I couldn't be happier that he's getting to live his dream as a working actor.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Three down, a bunch to go

Here's another one of Gail's great pictures. Pretty soon we'll be through with the football game and on to the reunion.

One thing I've come to realize is how much it was my loss not to have made the effort to become friends with you folks in high school.

Of course, most of us are different now than we were then.

Nicer, I think.

Let's start talking about you

Enough about me.

Over the next few months, on this blog and on the other two that I hope you'll visit, I will be trying to maintain your interest. That certainly doesn't mean writing about myself and my family all the time.

I want to know about YOU.

Let's start with something interesting, something more than just where we live, what we do and what has happened to us.

What's the most wonderful place you ever visited?

The picture tells you mine.

Now let's hear from y'all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jon, Sully will remain forever young

There's only one place in the world that brings tears to my eyes just by being there.

The Wall.

For most of us in the Class of '67, there was nothing that shaped our lives as much as the Vietnam War.

Two of us died there.

I never knew Mike Sullivan, but I knew Jon Rumble to say hello to. We both lived in Mosby Woods, and we ran into each other from time to time.

A couple of years ago, when I was writing on an earlier blog, I did a Google search to see what I could learn about Jon's death. I saw a tribute site in which a friend of his from the war had posted something; his e-mail address was included and I wrote to him.

Don Dark told me that by the end of 1968, he and Jon had both realized the futility of the war, and all they were concerned with was protecting each other's back. Don still regrets that on a day he was called away to do something else, his best friend died.

Forty years later, he still remembers and he still grieves.

Most of the rest of us in the Class of '67 grew up and grew older. We lived through Watergate and disco, Reagan and the Challenger, Clinton, Bush and 911. We lost our hair and got fat, our kids grew up and had kids of their own.

Not Jon Rumble and Mike Sullivan. Their hopes and dreams died with them.

The rest of us will age and go on Social Security. We'll one day look back at long lives with either satisfaction or regret, but they won't.

Jon and Sully will remain forever young.

Another one of Gail's great pictures

Damn, I wish I had gone to that football game.

I see Bill, Darla, Carol and a bunch of other people I either don't know or can't make out. They seem to be having a lot more fun Friday night than I had reading "Who Stole the Funny?"

By the way, it's a pretty good book. Who would have thought Robby Benson could write?

Thanks, Gail.

More to come.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The first in a series of images

These photos, presented for your edification, are courtesy of the ever lovely Gail MacLeod. We'll put one a day in for a while.

Forgive me for the lack of captions. I didn't make it to the football game Friday night.

More tomorrow

There were funny moments, too

I wonder how many of you remember our Class Night.

I know a number of you listed Coach Paul "Red" Jenkins as one of the teachers who had a big effect on them, and he was our faculty advisor our junior year.

Now I spent 16 years as a sports reporter, the first two of them at the old Alexandria Gazette, and I remember that other coaches felt Red's flaw was that he got overly emotional during games.

Do you recall that when he came out and spoke to us on Class Night, talking about what an honor it had been to work with us, he broke down a little and started crying? And that then he asked for a moment to collect himself and he walked off stage?

With Coach Jenkins out of sight behind the curtain, someone popped a paper bag and someone in the audience -- I always thought it was Mike Willis, but maybe not -- said in a solemn voice, "Coach Jenkins has just committed suicide."

I remember most of the guys laughed their heads off and most of the girls tried to get them to hush.

It may have been the single funniest moment at Woodson in 1967.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tears and fears and feeling proud

Just a few thoughts before we fly:

Reading Rande Barker's post, and spending two weeks before the reunion trying unsuccessfully to convince another old friend to come, I find myself ineffably sad.

You see, I felt some of the same doubts. I'm 40 pounds heavier than I was in high school, and I didn't have that many good friends in our graduating class. Most of you were people I envied for what seemed to me your easy confidence in navigating those years.

I told Dale that I had never gone out with anyone in our class. Her response was perfectly true.

"You never asked."

Of course she was right. I looked at my yearbook pictures for the first time in 36 years and realized I was a nicer looking kid than I had ever imagined.

Heck, I thought I was a troll.

Rande, I was in the band, so I saw the majorettes all the time. You were so incredibly beautiful back then, and it would have been wonderful to see you no matter what. I'm sorry you couldn't make it.

Ditto to so many of the rest of you.

Did we all get nicer over 40 years or did we just come to the realization that nobody gets out of here alive and we might as well love each other?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Cavalier spirit never dies

Hey, y'all.

Yeah, you. Some of you I saw last night -- and was very happy to see -- and some of you didn't make it to the Hyatt Regency, to Arlington or even to the East Coast. Some of you are no longer with us, but let's be reasonable. You're not the ones I'm trying to reach.

This is a blog, not a seance.

Inspired by the lovely and vivacious Dale Morgan and the efforts she has put into all our reunions, I've decided to make the Class of '67 the gift of a Website. My motive isn't entirely unselfish; I'm hoping that some of you will discover and become frequent visitors to my other two blogs.

As you'll see, on the verge of decrepitude and retirement (not that there's anything wrong with that), I'm trying to change the world.

What I'm doing here is putting together a place where folks can meet and comment regularly about their lives, their kids (legitimate and otherwise) and most of all their memories.

Many of you know me. Some don't. Some of you doubtless wish you didn't.

I'm 57 years old -- 58 in December -- and living in Southern California. I write for a living and I have an amazing wife and two spectacular children. Of course I'll post pictures from time to time and you'll humor me.

What I'll do once a week or more is post something to give all of you a chance to respond. Any time any of you would like to post an essay, a topic or just let off some steam, e-mail it to me and I will post it for you.

So let's get going.

Why don't we start with y'all posting your thoughts on the reunion.

Discuss among yourselves: Eggplant, egg or plant?

Editor's note: Mike, you're not half as funny as you think you are.

Sure, but they don't know that.

Editor's note: They will.